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Teachers invited to apply for Bright Ideas grants
RH MIddle School Bright Ideas
Last fall Richmond Hill Middle School STEM Director John Melcher received a grant for $1,384 for his class project. (From left) Terry Cook, Coastal Electric; Elizabeth Bennett, RHMS assistant principal; Whit Hollowell and Daphanie Harris, Coastal Electric; Melcher; Ken Deal, RHMS assistant principal. - photo by Photo provided.

Coastal Electric Cooperative invites teachers in Richmond Hill-area schools to apply for local innovative classroom grants of up to $2,000. The program, called Bright Ideas, awards multiple grants totaling $22,000 each year to teachers who complete on-line grant applications.

Bright Ideas is the vision of CEO Whit Hollowell, who conceived the program in 2002. He knew teachers often had unique and innovative ideas for presenting their lessons that required equipment and materials that could not be funded through the classroom budget.

“We found teachers were spending their own money to finance creative class projects that they knew were helping their students to learn new concepts,” Hollowell said. “Bright Ideas seeks to empower those teachers to think outside the box and develop unique learning experiences for their students. The grant program rewards creativity and innovation. These grants are not for buying ordinary school supplies or sponsoring field trips.” 

In the past, Bright Ideas grants have funded projects like Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities through robotics, building and testing underwater ROV kits in a pool and recording data, and Turn the Beat Around, a program teaching early CPR and defibrillation.

The application deadline is midnight on Aug. 26. Complete details, videos and an online application is available from the Coastal Electric Cooperative website at

The applications are evaluated blindly by a team of local judges. Winners will not be notified in advance. Instead the Bright Ideas Prize Team will be making its rounds to winning schools Oct. 4 and 5.

“We will come to your classroom totally by surprise, with cameras rolling, balloon bouquets, goodie bags and a big presentation check,” said Hollowell.

Since the program’s inception more than $220,000 has been awarded to local teachers. The grants give teachers the power to put their creative teaching ideas into action. Applications are accepted from teachers instructing students in grades K-12.

In south Bryan County, the applicant must be a teacher working individually or as a team in one of the following schools:

Dr. George Washington Carver Middle School

McAllister Elementary School

Richmond Hill High School

Richmond Hill Middle School

Richmond Hill Elementary School

Richmond Hill Primary School

(A different electrical cooperative serves north Bryan County.)

Bright Ideas is made possible in part by the voluntary donations of Coastal Electric’s members who participate in Operation Round Up® a program where members allow their electric bills to be rounded up to the nearest whole dollar. Those nickels and dimes each month are turned over to The Coastal Electric Cooperative Foundation which oversees the fund. The foundation uses the money to assist with food, health, shelter, safety and educational needs within the community.

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